Tag Archives: lamb

Chez Marcita Presents: St. Paddy’s Lamb Stew


I’m not Irish, but I love lamb. What could be better for St. Patrick’s Day than lamb stew? Join Bill and me in the kitchen as we create this wheat-free, dairy-free, corn-free one-pot meal. Find the recipe on page 40 of my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies.

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Shepherd’s and Goatherd’s Pie


Originally a means for using up leftover roasted meat, Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with lamb or mutton but has evolved in the United States to a dish made primarily with beef. Many of the recipes call for adding cheese, such as Cheddar, to the mashed potatoes, which is what gave me the idea to use a Bill-friendly option: goat cheese. Hence the name, Shepherd’s and Goatherd’s Pie.

You could vary this recipe in a number of ways: Use ground beef instead of lamb; use cow’s cheese instead of goat cheese; add tomato paste to the gravy for a richer flavor; brush the mashed potatoes with a beaten egg for a more golden-brown topping. No matter what, it’s a yummy, hearty, easy one-dish meal–great for winter time in the North!

Shepherd’s and Goatherd’s Pie

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing casserole dish and brushing on potatoes

4 large carrots, peeled and finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

1 cup beef or lamb stock

½ cup frozen peas

4 ounces goat cheese, softened

2 tablespoons rice milk

Optional: Splash of dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, or dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

Optional: 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Optional: Grated Pecorino cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large heavy skillet, sauté carrots and onions in one tablespoon of olive oil until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add thyme and stir to blend. Remove vegetable mixture from pan.

Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain.

Put ground lamb in pan and season with salt and pepper.

Brown until meat is crispy. Drain fat. Remove meat from pan.

Add wine and deglaze pan by stirring bits of food from pan with liquid. (If not using wine, use water or stock for deglazing.)

Return meat to pan and add flour. Stir until blended. Add Worcestershire sauce and stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce liquid slightly.

Add carrot-onion mixture and peas to meat and stir to blend.

Drain cooked potatoes; add remaining olive oil and rice milk to pot and mash.

Add goat cheese, continuing to mash mixture until cheese and potatoes are blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Grease a 9×9-inch casserole dish with olive oil. Put meat-vegetable mixture in bottom of dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on top of meat, spreading evenly until all the meat is covered. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Pecorino cheese, if desired.

Bake pie 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden.

Serves 6 to 8.

Enjoy with a side of bread, such as Sami’s Bakery Millet & Flax Bread, which is wheat-free!

Lamb and Halloumi Tacos


Earlier this week I made Lamb Souvlaki with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Greek Salad. Since my ground lamb comes in one-pound packages, there was a lot left over. Already seasoned with cumin and cayenne pepper, it was a quick, easy meal for round two: lamb tacos.

Really, this meal is pretty close to the souvlaki I already made; it’s the delivery that’s changed. Instead of using a fork and knife to wade through the lettuce and Greek salad, I wrapped everything up in a tortilla, just like I’d eat a Mexican taco. My favorite local tortilleria is Las Brazas.

You just fry the halloumi as in the souvlaki recipe above.

Warm the tortillas; then add the lamb and cheese.

Mix together some chopped tomatoes, chopped green or red onion, oregano, and mint with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.

Cucumber also goes well with this mixture.

Fold and serve!

Lamb Souvlaki with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Greek Salad


Okay, so it’s not really souvlaki because the lamb’s not skewered, but that’s  the name of the recipe so I’m sticking with it. This recipe came from ABC Hobart, a radio station in Tasmania, Australia.

As usual, I improvised. For one thing, it’s hard to find good pita bread in West Michigan at the last minute without going to Mediterranean Island in Grand Rapids, so I actually used flour tortillas as a substitute. (These also work well to accommodate Bill’s wheat allergy; even though the tortillas are made with wheat, his reaction to tortillas is less severe than for pita bread.)

Where’s the lamb, you might ask? It’s hidden under the salad. Basically, the tortilla (or pita) serves as a holder for the halloumi and the lamb; then you pile the Greek salad on top. It’s a great dish to make in the summer because of the cool salad components. And, there’s not much cooking to do. I included this recipe in my “Food Over a Fire” category because all you need is an iron skillet for cooking the lamb and browning the cheese. Bill and I actually prefer making this dish with ground lamb, which doesn’t need to be marinated. This lamb is from Creswick Farms, via the West Michigan Co-op, until our lamb order from Lubbers Farm is ready in the fall.

Once it was browned, I drained the fat and continued frying it until was nice and crispy, then added ground cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. (I omitted the oregano in this step because I planned to add fresh oregano leaves to the salad component.)

Next, I heated up the tortillas on a griddle and put them on plates, covered, to keep warm. (You could do this in a skillet over a campfire or wrap them in foil to warm them slowly.) Then I cut the halloumi cheese into slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick (so they don’t fall apart) and fried them in a very light coating of olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.

Then I cut the cheese slices down the middle in order to distribute them on the tortilla.

Next, I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the cheese and sprinkled the ground lamb all over the tortilla.

Meanwhile, I combined tomatoes, olive oil, salt, fresh lemon juice, cucumbers, fresh chopped oregano, and fresh chopped mint in a bowl to create the Greek salad. The herbs came right from my garden and the vegetables are from the Holland Farmers’ Market.

For the final assembly, I put mixed greens on top of the tortilla-halloumi-lamb mixture and added the Greek salad, garnishing with kalamata olives.

Stay tuned for my next lamb recipe showing how I used up the leftovers!

Happy Sheep at Stone Barns


This past week, the sheep at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (in Pocantico Hills‎, New York) were moved from their winter barn to green pastures, where they will be moved daily to enjoy fresh grass as part of a diverse, pastured livestock rotation. At Stone Barns, they overwinter their adult sheep and then send them back out to pasture once the grass is tall enough for them to graze in the spring. They always eat a grass-based diet, so when they aren’t on grass, they are eating hay or alfalfa.

Stone Barns is a non-profit farm and educational center. Its mission is to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table.

I just love this video because–in one minute–it shows the essence of raising animals humanely and happily. Watch how the sheep practically run to the fresh green grass!

I’m looking forward to my visit there in June! Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post documenting my experience.

More Than Everday Food at Everyday People Cafe


To celebrate our anniversary this weekend, Bill and I headed to one of our all-time favorite local restaurants, Everyday People Cafe, in Douglas, Michigan.

We like it because it’s small, intimate, and cozy. And we like it because the food is excellent and reasonably priced. On top of that, much of the food is sourced locally. And the staff is always friendly, attentive, and professional.

That said, I couldn’t resist the Colorado rack of lamb, which was last night’s special. I hesitated when I saw “Colorado”–a litte too far for a Michigan locavore’s palate. But the other side of the coin for me is animal welfare, when it comes to choosing food sources. When I asked our server if it was grassfed, he said yes. I was hooked. And so was Bill.

After a half bottle of Mawby’s Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine from Northern Lower Michigan, I enjoyed the Candied Pumpkin Seed & Fig Salad.

Because of Bill’s allergy to cow dairy, he asked for a substitute side dish to replace the mashed potatoes that came with the lamb. I really appreciate a chef who will accommodate food allergies. At Everyday People Cafe, our dietary tastes and needs have always been accommodated.

Here’s Bill’s Colorado lamb with rice instead of mashed potatoes. It came with a mint chimichurri avocado salad.

And here it is with the mashed potatoes:

You’d think that was plenty of food. Of course it was, but I opted to save two of my chops for another day so I could finish off the meal with a dish of Palazzolo’s vanilla gelato.

There’s nothing I appreciate more than the simplicity of vanilla. Even better, Palazzolo’s is local!

Bill and I enjoyed the slow pace of eating dinner at one of our favorite hometown eateries….a great way to celebrate our wedding anniversary without going far.